Coronavirus News Roundup, March 25

Everything you need to know about higher ed and the coronavirus for Wednesday in one easy-to-read package.

March 25, 2020
 
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More states and cities are asking residents to shelter in place. New York is seeing a big uptick in cases as it tests more people.

But there are still some things to make us happy.

Good old central Maine is hoping to host a graduation ceremony in a drive-in movie theater. Kennebec Valley Community College would have students drive to the theater and play the remarks in their cars. The college hopes to support local businesses by ordering flowers and takeout food services for the event, as well as videographers to record it. Faculty and staff members would line the street in their cars to cheer the graduates on.

Richard Hopper, president of the college, said he hopes the commencement solution inspires other college leaders. (Hopper stressed that the commencement would go forward only if it complies with national, state and local laws and ordinances on public gatherings, which are in flux across the country."

"I am eager to have graduating students feted in a way that acknowledges all that they have learned and all that they have overcome to get to the finish line," he said via email. "It's also important for the faculty and staff to celebrate their students."

Capitol Hill Books in D.C. is letting people pay $100 to receive a mystery grab bag of books. If you pay for shipping, you can get it delivered outside of the District. (Or perhaps ask your local bookstore if they'd consider doing that, too?)

For our last piece of good news, gaze upon this baby penguin named Zion who recently hatched at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.

All right, let’s get to the news.

A Democratic aide told us that the proposed $10,000 student loan relief won't make it into the coronavirus stimulus plan, though a smaller amount may be possible.

Meanwhile, colleges are hoping for a Republican proposal to encourage more charitable donations during this time with deductions.

And New Jersey has already frozen nearly a billion dollars in state spending in anticipation of revenue declines. The freeze includes $71 million in college operating aid, $21 million in tuition assistance and $10 million in county college operating costs.

A public university has already declared a state of financial exigency due to the circumstances caused by the pandemic. Central Washington University's Board of Trustees voted for the declaration, which will let the university take dramatic cost-cutting measures like firing tenured faculty. The board will hold a special meeting later this month.

Harvard University's president and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19, and a resident of a living-learning community affiliated with Columbia University has died from complications of the virus.

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

Kery Murakami stayed up late reporting on the stimulus package proposals.

How are faculty members coping with working at home? Colleen Flaherty has some insights.

Strict travel restrictions in several countries have left some students stranded, Elizabeth Redden reports.

Greta Anderson talked with student journalists about how they're continuing to report in this uncertain time.

News From Elsewhere

Some support staff members feel colleges aren't taking the pandemic seriously by requiring them to report to work, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

This EdSurge column looks at the long-term implications of coronavirus for higher education.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

Teachers are not OK right now, according to the director of music education at Castleton University.

A University of Oklahoma doctoral student wrote about her experiences during this crazy time.

Institutions need to collaborate with their peers to get through this pandemic, according to two insiders.


Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together.

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